Researchers announced they have successfully produced a human embryonic stem cell (hESC) line without destroying an embryo. The work of removing a single cell (blastomere) from a human embryo with the surviving embryo cryo-preserved was presented during the 5th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, Cairns, Australia, by Robert Lanza, MD, VP of Research and Scientific Development of Advanced Cell Technology, Inc.
For this research, Lanza started with three embryos obtained through pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. This procedure is performed in some fertility clinics when parents get embryos tested for genetic defects. His team used just a single cell from each of three embryos and then froze the embryos. "These embryos remain frozen. They are still alive," Lanza said.
As reported by Elizabeth Finkel, Cosmos Online, Lanza described how a blastomere was removed from the eight-cell embryo, and then both the donor embryo and cell were grown side-by-side in the culture dish. This is necessary because the donor embryo sends signals that coax the cell to develop and multiply.
After five days, the clump of blastomere cells is weaned off the mother embryo, and transferred to another dish where it is now nurtured by established hESCs. Finally, the blastomeres join their ranks, and become hESCs themselves. Meanwhile the original donor embryo is safely returned to the freezer.
Researchers say these cells, taken from days-old embryos, might provide a way to regenerate all sorts of tissues, blood, and perhaps even organs. And studying them might help them learn how to reprogram ordinary cells.
Cosmos Magazine (06/20/07)
Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. (06/21/07)
International Business Times (06/22/07)
Zee News (06/23/07)
The Age (06/23/07)
The Star Online (06/24/07)
Medical News Today (06/28/07)